In February 2011, equipped with a new carbon-fibre tripod given to me by my brother, I traveled to Cambodia with the goal of shooting the sunrise at Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious building. This was a place that I’ve been longing to go to for a long time.
Since I brought my tripod along, I decided to test out the Fuji Velvia ISO 50 film which is apparently one of the best and slowest films available on the market. It goes without saying that an ISO 50 film is one of the finest grain film available. For those who don’t shoot film, the Fuji Velvia series of slide films are unanimously agreed upon as one of the best films available for shooting landscape, fauna and scenery. The characteristics which make this film a favorite of landscape photographers is the high saturation and contrast and intensely vivid colors which look great without much need for post-processing.
Most people I know, know that I am not a morning person (I usually go to bed at 4 or 5am) but there’s one thing that will get me out bed – capturing beautiful photos at golden hour. So I set my alarm nice and early at 430am and the driver I arranged the day before was already waiting for me at my hotel lobby.
On arriving outside the temple grounds, it was still dark as a dungeon so most people navigated toward the entrance with a flashlight or the light from their cellphone. I followed the crowd into the temple grounds until I reached the lake area about 100 metres from the main temple buildings.
There were busloads of Chinese and Korean tourists as Angkor Wat have been heavily promoted by Chinese and Korean-owned travel agents, hotels and local businesses. It was hard to feel at peace with such large , noisy crowds I guess I have to be a little more tolerant since I am Asian myself! (my grandparents are from China) I thought I could get a really good spot since I arrived when it’s still pitch black but I was wrong. Hoards of photographers pros and amateurs alike had already claimed their stake and place. I was left struggling to look for a place where I could stabilize my tripod whilst also getting a good composition of the temple. As the sun was coming up, I could start to make out the infamous silhouette of the temples and the crowd starts to snap photos. It took about 20 minutes or so for the crowd to disperse and I could finally squeeze in to get a good spot right in front of the lake. Once I had set my tripod, I realized that the main temples were currently undergoing maintenance and the ugly scaffolding with green covers can be seen on the right side of the temple buildings.
Realizing this, I had no choice but to improvise and shoot reflections or silhouettes of the temples as seen below.
I would love to visit the Mayan and Egyptian ancient civilizations in the near future!